The Taco Bell Foundation Announces Top 25 Teams of its first-ever Ambition Accelerator
Irvine, Calif. (September 8, 2022) - Today, the Taco Bell Foundation is announcing the top 25 teams of ambitious changemakers who have been selected to move to the next round of the inaugural Ambition Accelerator!
Young people are disrupting societal norms and pursuing their bold social impact ideas to enact the change they crave in the world. So, the Taco Bell Foundation joined forces with Ashoka, the largest global network of social entrepreneurs earlier this year. Funded by Yum! Brands’ Unlocking Opportunity Initiative, they launched the Ambition Accelerator, a brand new social impact initiative that champions innovators in their pursuits to enact change and tackle inequalities.
Ambitious young people have inspiring passion and drive, but often need more support to turn their ideas into action. The Ambition Accelerator is giving young people more equitable access to the funding and resources they need to enact the community and global change they want to see.
In the program’s first year, there were nearly 300 applications, and 25 ideas were selected to advance to the next round, receiving an additional $1000 in seed funding and getting flown out to Taco Bell’s headquarters in Irvine, California in November. The top 25 will experience an exclusive three-day Summit to network and sharpen their changemaking skills. Five will be selected as finalists to win up to $25,000 in funding to accelerate their ventures.
Several trends emerged from the top ideas, with several falling into the following categories:
- Mental Health for Teens: Multiple applications focused on finding solutions to various mental health issues facing teenagers, from creating safe spaces for Black girls to talk to promoting positive body images.
- Technology for Good: Some submissions focus on technological solutions to societal problems, from mobilizing robot teams that bring resources to disaster zones to an iPhone application that can detect Parkison's.
- Sustainable Futures: Building a more sustainable world was on the minds of many changemakers, resulting in submissions that ranged from bee habitat restoration efforts to a festival fostering eco-friendly fashion trends.
- Youth Education and Development: Young leaders are passionate about setting up their peers and future generations for success, from an organization increasing access to science, engineering, math and technology education in under-resourced communities to an app that trains young people in rural communities to enact change.
World-changing ideas are needed now more than ever. Check out the full list of inspiring recipients and their changemaking efforts below:
- BEING celebrates young women as they are, helping them embrace their inner worth and build healthy relationships with their peers, their bodies and their achievements.
- Black Girls Talk provides a safe space and youth development resources for Black girls ages 14-18 to connect, discuss challenges they face, receive mentorship and feel empowered.
- Cepha aims to be a low-cost, early-intervention tool to detect Parkison's disease while being patient and provider friendly. The application can be taken in under five minutes to help diagnose the disease in patients with less prominent symptoms.
- Duniya House provides free housing, community and resources to refugees in Greece experiencing homelessness, offering them a foundation to rebuild their lives post-displacement.
- Etana is a cost-effective device that enables women without identification, including those without internet or electricity, to create a unique digital ID to participate digitally, financially, socially and politically in public sector systems and services.
- Equity Reach Healthcare is a mobile application that simulates real life, teaching users health strategies through engaging virtual education modules.
- Guardial is a discreet personal safety app that gives at-risk groups like women the ability to take control of their safety, combat harassment crimes and more easily remove themselves from threatening situations.
- Habikit aims to protect and restore bee habitat in Southern Appalachia through their accessible bee habitat restoration kit, a wooden planter box filled with bee-friendly flowers that thrive in the region.
- Tints Streetwear is an educational initiative that teaches young people experiencing poverty in Bangladesh entrepreneurship skills through designing hand-embroidered streetwear.
- KidAction is an educational app that aims to train young people, especially those in rural communities, to make change in their communities while building skills, increasing college readiness and sharpening their public policy knowledge.
- Leaders Across the World is a free virtual initiative to democratize exchange experiences, giving international participants ages 11-18 the opportunity to connect with peers and explore global issues.
- LookUpp is a community-powered app that seeks to improve the mental health of teenage and older students by encouraging them to engage in more offline social interactions.
- Magical Motors cultivates social and motor skills growth in children with developmental and motor disabilities with the goal of modifying ride-on toy cars so they are accessible for kids to drive.
- Mentalligence is a mental health program that brings together students from across New York City virtually to learn and try out a variety of therapy and self-care methods.
- moMUNtum works to make Model United Nations (MUN) more accessible, equitable and impactful by training conference organizers and students in facilitating conferences that are welcoming and inclusive.
- One World for STEAM is dedicated to increasing access to science, engineering, math and technology (STEAM) education in under-resourced communities worldwide through camps, mentorship programs and community resources.
- Oystilter is a small, scalable device that filters molecules harmful to water systems by mimicking the processes oysters use to clean water.
- Pandion Institute facilitates transformative and educational outdoor experiences that center Indigenous values, vision and voices and creates a space for homecoming and Land-based cultural revitalization.
- Robust Adaptive Network (RAN) is a collection of robots that operate as a rescue network that can be deployed in disaster areas to provide internet access, distribute supplies and support rescue missions.
- ServUS aims to connect passionate university student volunteers with socially innovative projects at nonprofits, empowering youth to lead the way towards a sustainable future while serving as a hub for changemaking.
- She Shall Speak is a podcast and global empowerment community working to amplify the intersectional narratives of Gen Z Black girls and support them in pursuing civic service, entrepreneurship and social justice.
- Terraclu is a mobile app and sensor that uses machine learning to identify the ideal temperature and humidity to maintain the freshness of fruits and vegetables as they ripen, using this data to recommend nearby locations where the produce can be stored.
- The Onyx Incubator is a free three-year program that supports youth who have experienced incarceration or qualify for an alternative to secure detention centers in building their creative and social skills in preparation for life after high school.
- ThriftFest is a sustainable fashion festival that is building towards an eco-friendly fashion future by promoting local artists, community groups and businesses creating sustainable fashion and art.
- Youth International Leadership Initiative (YILI) seeks to increase the involvement of diverse students and recent graduates in international affairs opportunities and careers.
About Taco Bell Foundation
Taco Bell Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) public charity that helps America's young people pursue their educational goals and career aspirations. Since 1992, the Taco Bell Foundation has reached more than 5 million young people across the country and has awarded more than $130 million in grants and scholarships, focused on education and career readiness. For more information about the Taco Bell Foundation, visit www.tacobellfoundation.org.
About Taco Bell Corp.
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Ashoka is the largest global network of leading social entrepreneurs—individuals with new ideas to systemically address the world's biggest challenges and the entrepreneurial skill to transform those ideas into national, regional and global social impact. Over 40 years, Ashoka has supported more than 3,600 social entrepreneurs in 90 countries with solutions addressing society's most pressing issues. Ashoka's vision is a world in which Everyone is a Changemaker—a society that responds quickly and effectively to challenges, and where every individual has the freedom, confidence and societal support to address any social problem. For more information, visit ashoka.org. Follow Ashoka on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for updates.